Researcher finds way to calm fears during sleep
2013-09-25 0:00

Red Ice Creations

Doctors, researchers and scientists have been working on ways to diminish or eliminate fear for many therapeutic reasons. Now there seem to be breakthroughs in technology that allow mental and emotional changes, memory manipulation, and de-conditioning, for good or for ill.

While these therapies could bring hope to those who suffer from conditions such as anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder, we must be mindful of the repercussions of eliminating all worries, uncomfortable memories, and reality-based fears.

Removing memories of WWII or 9/11 might be comforting, but would we still recall, or find important, the lessons learned from such events?

Baseless or irrational fears can cripple us, but becoming totally fearless makes us blind to the real dangers out there.


NBCNews reports on the neuroscience study...

---
Researcher finds way to calm fears during sleep
By Brian Alexander | TodayHealth

Fear may be the most powerful of all human emotions, but according to a study released today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, sleep can be its enemy.

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, specific emotional memories of human beings were deliberately altered during sleep. The complicated small study, which involved 15 test subjects, found that sending a sensory cue associated with a fear to a sleeping person could significantly reduce that fear when the person was awake and facing the source of their fear.

The experiment, led Katherina Hauner, assistant director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, worked like so: Fifteen people looked at pictures of faces while they were monitored for skin conductance (basically, sweat) – a standard measure of the physiological response to fear – and their brains were imaged in an fMRI machine. Half the time two specific faces appeared, the test subjects received a mild electric shock.

That’s a standard method of “fear conditioning,” teaching somebody to be afraid of something. But Hauner added another cue: scent. For example, “Face 1” might always be accompanied by the odor of mint while “Face 2” was always accompanied by lemon.

So, each person received two fear contextual cues: pictures of faces and the aromas that accompanied them.

And the conditioning worked. The skin conductance measures and fMRI images showed that the test subjects did indeed learn to fear the faces and aromas that often came with a shock.

Next, test subjects were asked to take a nap while still attached to the skin conductance device as well as an EEG machine, which measured their brain waves. As soon as they entered slow wave sleep, Hauner exposed them to one of the two smells associated with the fear conditioning – only lemon, say, or only mint.

At first, even though they were asleep, skin conductance measures showed a strong fear response. But the longer they slept in a slow wave state and the longer they smelled the odor, fear decreased.

After the test subjects woke up, they were again exposed to the pictures of faces in the same set up as before, in the fMRI machine. This time, however, their fear of the specific face associated with the odor they’d been given while asleep was diminished. The longer they slept in slow wave mode, and the longer they smelled the aroma, the more powerful the effect.

Their fear of the other face, on the other hand, remained unchanged.

What’s the significance of this research?

Phobias are usually treated with “exposure therapy” which involves exposing somebody to what they’re afraid of over and over again until they finally learn not to fear it. It’s not erasing the fear; it’s creating a new memory stronger than the memory of the fear. The process is known as fear extinction.

Research has shown that sleep helps consolidate new memories and some studies of standard fear extinction treatment have indicated that sleeping after therapy can produce a strong effect.

“But to my knowledge specific emotional memories in humans have never been modulated during sleep before,” Hauner said in an interview, adding that her study was small, with just 15 people who did not have a fear disorder, and that more work needs to be done before applying her findings to actual patients.

Others were more enthusiastic about the results, though.

“This is extremely exciting,” Edward Pace-Schott, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School who often uses spiders to study fear acquisition and extinction, told NBC News. “While it’s hard to interpret, it suggests that if you can get contextual information into the brain during sleep, some sort of learning process can take place. The fact that it gets into the brain during sleep is remarkable.”

[...]

Read the full article at: today.com




READ: The Neuroscience of Fear and Loathing



Tune into Red Ice Radio:

Anthony Peake - Hour 1 - The Infinite Mindfield: The Mystery of Consciousness

Neil Sanders - The Dark Art of Mind Control

Anthony Peake & Tom Campbell - Consciousness Creates Reality

Anthony Peake - Mystery of the Brain, Precognition, Time Dilation & Déjà vu

Peter Russell - The Primacy of Consciousness

Jim Elvidge - Are we Living in a Simulation, a Programmed Reality?

Penney Peirce - Frequency, Intuition, Time & Dreams

Hillary Raimo - State of Control, Spiritual Health & Freedom

Carol de la Herran - Robert Monroe & Altered States of Consciousness





Related Articles
Scientists create false memories: what part of Matrix is this?
MIT Neuroscientists Can Implant Fake Memories into the Brain
Worms regrow their decapitated heads, along with the memories inside
What Makes Some Memories So Memorable?
Inception becomes reality? Two teams of scientists implant ’false memories’ into mice
The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever
Latest Kinect sensors allow games to feed off your fear
Psychopathic Kids Don’t Process Fear Very Quickly
The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »